KAMPALA — The Uganda Editors’ Guild has condemned the outrageous and unacceptable violence meted out by security forces including police and the army against journalists covering the ongoing general elections.
The editors in a statement dated Sunday, December 27 indicated that despite repeated appeals to security agencies, as well as law enforcement operatives, to respect the right of journalists to work freely and accord them protection, “we continue to see blatant attacks against journalists”— showing a complete disregard for their critical role in documenting issues of public interest.
“In fact, according to witnesses, it appears that in today’s attacks, which left at least three journalists – Ashraf Kasirye, Ali Mivule and Daniel Lutaaya – in hospital with serious injuries, security agents deliberately targeted journalists,” the statement signed by Secretary, Sylvia Nankya reads in parts.
“We have arrived at a point where wearing a press jacket that clearly labels one as a journalist makes them less safe
and more likely to be targeted for attack. This is unacceptable; journalism is not a crime,” the statement indicated— with editors vowing to continue to documenting collective attacks against journalists and the individual officers who carry them out and those with operational command.
“Attacks on journalists will not go unrecorded or unpunished. Impunity shall not be allowed to thrive”.
“While we are specifically concerned about the attacks against journalists, we are also gravely concerned by the unprecedented violence that has undermined this electoral season, and in which many non-journalists have been killed, injured, or been detained, sometimes without trial and for longer than is constitutionally allowed”
“We are concerned that the country is, yet again, sliding down the slippery road of political violence and undoing all the efforts of constitutionalism and the rule of law that have been undertaken for many decades.
Uganda is due to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on Jan. 14.
Government has been accused of suppressing journalists through a series of arbitrary arrests and attacks — especially against those covering the campaign of some opposition candidates.
The editors have since petitioned Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth Ochola and the Chief of Defence Forces Gen. David Muhoozi to rein in the men and officers under their command, to publicly condemn the attacks on journalists, and to order a transparent and independent investigation into the violence involving security agencies.
The editors have jointly threatened to withdraw journalists from covering the general elections, state events over repeated harassment by security forces.
“We will continue to assess whether it is safe to continue sending out our journalists to cover these campaigns and
other public and state events,” the statement added.